Exactly three years ago, a massive flashflood swept the towns of Real, Infanta, and General Nakar (REINA) in Quezon province. Heavy rains swelled the Agos River that overwhelmed the three towns, delivering flashfoods, landslides, and destruction of properties. Major roads were impassible for days. People’s livelihoods were disrupted. There were also numerous casualties and residents could only swear it should never happen again.
But now, it seemed that the tragedy never took place.
The roads are now well-paved, there are newly-built buildings and commercial centers, but more than the infrastructure, the people of REINA have their pride restored – they are now involved in various enterprises uplifting not only the lives of their family, but those who are around them.
|This is precisely the vision of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation when it embarked into social and enterprise management through the creation of the Pacific Rim Integrated Development Effort (PRIDE) – believing that after the rehabilitation, there should be a sustainable development program to further lift the lives of the people.
“The PRIDE program focuses on the Pacific Ocean side areas of the country – from Aurora, Quezon, the whole stretch of Bicol region to Samar-Leyte. These disaster-prone areas will be the recipient of ABS-CBN Bayan’s social development services such as microfinance. REINA is the pilot area,” said Dr, Eduardo Morato, president of ABS-CBN Bayan.
PRIDE takes off by facilitating and providing its partners – the LGUs and civil society – urgent social development needs like water and education, and by enhancing the production of local market goods.
True enough, as part of ABS-CBN Bayan’s 10th anniversary celebration, it inaugurated the Phase 2 of the Barangay Gumian Water System Project which will supply potable water to the homes of 600 families. Add to that, 35 Educational Television (ETV) packages – nine in Real, 15 in Infanta, and eight in General Nakar – were turned over to schools benefiting more than 15,000 students. A trading post in Nakar was also recently inaugurated giving easy access to residents who used to travel to neighboring Infanta for their basic goods.
“After addressing the social development needs of these communities, ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation will impart skills training to these communities to enhance their entrepreneurship. The provision of loans to both individual and small groups will commence. The PRIDE office will ensure that this new strategy will be implemented with a full time coordinator to oversee the operations,” said Morato.
In Real, municipal administrator Noel Merana said the opening of a PRIDE office signifies ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation’s commitment to help REINA residents rise from their present economic status.
He revealed that more people have expressed their intent to venture into a business through the assistance of microfinance. Since the foundation also provides value-added training to enhance entrepreneurial skills of their lenders, the beneficiaries would be assured that they are prepared to take on the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur.
“We want to train every POs and NGOs here so they can be sustainable. Since we don’t have the skills of an entrepreneur, ABS-CBN Bayan has committed to assist us in this aspect even in the long run,” Mr. Merana said.
Infanta Mayor Filipina Grace America believed the provision of livelihood opportunities had the biggest impact among the residents. “Mahalaga ang pagbibigay sa tao ng pagkakataon na makabangon muli at mabigyan ng pagkakataon na makapaghanap-buhay (What is important is giving them the chance to rise again and be given the opportunity to find a livelihood). There is still life after the tragedy. The best way to move forward is to have a livelihood to support their families,” she said.
Aside from its existing operations in Quezon, PRIDE is also in Bicol and Leyte in close coordinantion with the rehabilitations and disaster response arm- Sagip Kapamilya. ABS-CBN Bayan will bring the PRIDE program to aide the provinces of Aurora and Cagayan Valley in the years to come.
Published in Manila Bulletin (Jan. 13, 2008); Philippine Star (Jan. 7, 2008); and Business Mirror (Dec. 21, 2007. )